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  • Lucas Vermot-Desroches

Calisthenics vs. Weight Training

The traditional routine of bodybuilding relies on increasing a lifted weight to achieve the most muscle tension. While this can lead to excellent muscle isolation, it also increases potential for injury, and lacks a variety of other physical benefits, such as cardio activation. Calisthenics, on the other hand, use only the body’s weight to create the same muscle resistance, with positive bonus features. There are various benefits to implementing calisthenics in an exercise routine over the use of existing weight devices.

To begin, a main benefit of calisthenics is the ability to work out in virtually any setting. There is no need for any equipment, except perhaps for a floor mat, in order to achieve a full-body calisthenics workout. All someone needs is to learn how to do their routine, and they are set to workout in a flexible variety of settings. Push ups, sit ups, crunches and lunges are all common calisthenic exercises that can be done anywhere. These exercises train your core, shoulders, arms, legs, and chest.

Since the weight used is only weight from one’s own body mass, there is also less risk of injury, as there is no risk of picking up a weight that exceeds our body’s potential. This type of injury can easily happen when weightlifting, causing serious injury to joints, muscles and ligaments. At the same time, the advantage of weightlifting is the isolation of muscle groups. While this can be achieved to some degree through calisthenics, weightlifting is more effective in this regard. However, weightlifting will generally not activate as many compound muscle groups as calisthenic exercises will. The need of specific equipment also makes weightlifting more burdensome.

Unlike traditional weightlifting, calisthenics strengthen the whole body and helps to develop our physical coordination. Correct posture, movement control and form are all required to effectively perform calisthenics routines. Motor skills increase with calisthenics, while weight machines are too controlled and don’t engage our brain’s motor reflexes as intensively, if at all. Our physical flexibility can also increase through a calisthenics routine. It is critical to stretch before a calisthenics routine. But it is also important to note that a calisthenics routine is essentially an extension of stretching, as we engage in movements that have a bigger range than other traditional weightlifting exercises. Each time we do a pushup, for example, we stretch our arms, shoulders and chest, while maintaining muscle tightness in our core and legs.

Calisthenics also increase our body’s endurance far more extensively than traditional weightlifting routines. For example, simply holding our body in a plank position is a simple and effective way to increase our physical endurance, engaging our core without any actual movement. The simple plank exercise for two minutes can be more effective, without any real movement, than other heavy weight-based routines. Calisthenic training is also praised for its ability to cut fat drastically. Coupled with cardio, calisthenics allows users to lose fat at an accelerated pace. Since it is more of a full-body workout than weightlifting, it allows for fat loss in every part of the body. Many currently popular high-intensity interval training courses essentially employ calisthenics to help their clients cut the fat quickly, engaging their cardiovascular potential while performing compound movements in a group.

Additionally, it is possible to use some small and highly portable equipment to integrate into a calisthenics routine. A jump rope, resistance band, and pull-up bar are all easy transportable tools that can increase the effects of a calisthenics workout. Calisthenics allow for compound muscle group activation, engagement in cardio, increased flexibility and endurance, and fat burning far beyond weightlifting.

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